Tuesday, March 8, 2011

India Talent: Young Mobile and Hard to Find

Leadership talent in India is in short supply but it can be nurtured and built according to Vikram Chhachhi, DHR Executive Vice President in our New Delhi office. Vikram recently took time to speak about unique aspects of recruiting executives for MNCs in India.

Young and Mobile: India has some exceptional characteristics that make it different from China or anywhere else. For starters, the population is startlingly young: 50% of the population is under 25 years old. To those with access to schools, compulsory education at the elementary school level is pretty good. The country has increasingly progressive and deregulating labor policies which make it easy for people to move around, “The unskilled and semi-skilled labor pool is very mobile,” Vikram says, “It’s a numbers story. The mobility and open labor market really help businesses.” While experienced talent is in short supply, employers who are willing to nurture and build a workforce will find the raw talent available.
Experience in FMCG: With respect to professional talent, the MNC’s who have been established in India for many years are consumer packaged goods companies. Therefore a lot of the experienced talent has FMCG background from companies like Unilever and Procter and Gamble. Comparatively fewer managers are available from the durables and manufacturing sectors. Vikram expects that sectors like telecommunications, financial services, media and entertainment, IT and e-commerce, and retail will continue to experience huge pressure to find experienced talent. Health Care is a sector with growing demand where experience is thin on the ground and needs to be developed.
Reverse of the Brain Drain. Partly as a result of the Global Financial Crisis and partly due to economic liberalization and opening up, the relative attractiveness of India as a place to live and work has increased for individuals who may have left their home country long ago. “The number of people who are interested in coming back to India is increasing not by the day, but by the minute.” Vikram says. While this is potentially a great source of experienced management skill for MNCs, there are a few pitfalls. Reverse Brain Drainers may not always adjust easily to returning home after many years away. They may have unreasonably high compensation expectations. Also their businesses may be starting up or very small. To lead them may require extreme resourcefulness, in-depth market knowledge or other specialized talents. Not every returnee is ready for this. Hiring companies may want to consider a greener but savvier local hire over a returnee.
“Think regionally and act locally.”: Companies that come to India thinking that they can use their home template to achieve success find quickly that the home template does not work in India. “India is 25 different countries. We should be a separate continent,” says Vikram. By being sensitive to the array of nationalities and regional differences, companies will be more likely to succeed. “We have a central government and local governments with a strong dual taxation situation. On top of this you have to deal with the local social issues. Companies who take the time to understand all this will be much more successful. When you introduce your products, if you can give the same level of value and service in every market, you will get it right. If you are a company focused on short term results, India is a market that will test you.“
DHR International has three offices in India: New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore as well as 8 other offices throughout Asia. For more information about our services and capabilities in India, please contact me.


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